Things You Need to Know About Eating Salmon While Pregnant
When you’re expecting, you might find yourself overwhelmed by questions about what is safe to do and eat—like can you eat salmon while pregnant? If you're a fan of salmon, there's some good news—it's safe to eat during pregnancy! In fact, salmon is a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, both of which are important for pregnant women. But before you start stocking up on salmon filets, there are a few things you need to know about eating this popular fish while pregnant. Read on to learn more.
Can Pregnant Women Eat Salmon?
Yes, pregnant women can safely eat salmon.
Salmon is a rich source of essential nutrients like protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D, all of which are important for both mom and baby during pregnancy. Furthermore, salmon contains large amounts of B12 and B6—two nutrients that can help support healthy brain development in growing fetuses.
Overall, there are no significant safety concerns associated with eating salmon during pregnancy. While some may be concerned about seafood that’s high in mercury, salmon is considered a low-mercury seafood. In fact, a 6-ounce serving can provide the amount of DHA recommended for a pregnant woman, without elevating mercury levels.That said, with the right precautions in place, eating salmon can be a great way to get all the nutrients you need for you and your growing baby.
Can Pregnant Women Eat Smoked Salmon?
The safety of smoked salmon for pregnant women is a little more complicated. When it comes to smoked salmon, there is often a lot of uncertainty and confusion amongst pregnant women. Is smoked salmon safe for pregnant women? What should pregnant women look for when shopping for smoked salmon? These are common questions that many mothers-to-be have, and unfortunately, there is no easy answer.
Generally speaking, smoked salmon while pregnant can be healthy in moderation, as long as it has been properly prepared. There are two ways to prepare smoked salmon: hot and cold smoking. The hot smoking process may accelerate the degradation of fatty acids—which minimizes what makes salmon so healthy for pregnant women. Cold-smoked salmon may also have lower levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are potentially carcinogenic. This makes the case for cold-smoked salmon, but perhaps the most important thing to do is to pay attention to the amount of the sodium in the smoked salmon you eat.
Overall, consuming smoked salmon can be a great way to add beneficial nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids to a prenatal diet. However, it is always important to consult your doctor before making any major dietary changes during pregnancy. When in doubt about smoked salmon or any other food item, always err on the side of caution and consult with your healthcare provider first.
What About Sushi—Can Pregnant Women Eat Raw Salmon?
This is another question with a complicated answer. But, fortunately, there are ways to eat raw salmon safely while pregnant.
If you’re craving a spicy salmon roll, the question, “can I eat raw salmon while pregnant” may be running through your mind. This is because pregnant women are often advised to avoid eating raw fish, including salmon, due to the risk of foodborne illness. However, if pregnant women do choose to eat raw salmon, there are some extra precautions that should be taken.
First, it is important to make sure that the salmon comes from Alaska. Unless you know exactly what the farmed salmon at the grocery store was fed, chances are it is filled with antibiotics, unknown contaminants, and color additives. Second, wild Alaskan salmon are not all created equal. Most of the wild salmon you find on display at your local grocery store has been frozen multiple times over, losing a lot of the nutrients and flavor you’re craving. It’s best to find stores like Alaskan Salmon Company where you can purchase salmon directly from the fisherman.
Raw salmon should be kept refrigerated at all times and should be consumed within two days of purchase depending on where you purchased your salmon. Check our tips on how to store salmon to last longer) . Additionally, pregnant women should only eat sushi-grade salmon that has been flash-frozen to kill any harmful bacteria.
When preparing raw salmon, it is important to use clean utensils and cutting boards, and to wash your hands thoroughly afterward. Although there is a risk of foodborne illness with any raw meat, the risks are generally low when following these safety precautions.
However, as with any food, it is always best to consult with a healthcare provider before consuming raw salmon during pregnancy.
Benefits of Salmon For Pregnant Women
Now that we’ve answered all of your burning questions about eating salmon with a growing belly, let’s talk about why it’s good to do so!
1. Salmon is a Good Source of DHA for Brain Development
Docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, is one of the most important components of a pregnant woman’s diet. This type of omega-3 fatty acid is essential in fetal growth and neuro development, but also plays a critical role for whole-body health.
Aside from fatty fish, high-quality DHA can be hard to come by, which is why supplementation or increased consumption of fatty fish and seafood is recommended. In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) suggests consumption of 8 to 12 ounces of high-DHA, low-mercury seafood like salmon, sardines, herring, and trout.
Salmon specifically is well-known for its many health benefits, and is often recommended for pregnant women. Its rich omega-3 fatty acid content makes it a great source of DHA, which is essential for both fetal brain and eye development.
2. Salmon May Reduce Risk for Postpartum Depression and Preterm Delivery
As a 2018 study suggested, the essential fat-building fatty acid supports fetal growth, which in turn can reduce the risk of preterm birth. Combined with another fatty acid, EPA, Salmon’s high concentration of omega-3s may significantly reduce the risk of having a preemie—by as much as 10 times.
Not only does DHA support the growth and development of the baby. It’s also extremely helpful for mama! As research from 2020 found, DHA can be linked to improved depressive moods in the perinatal period—which is from late pregnancy through the early postpartum stage. Just like omega-3’s have been effective in supporting those with major depressive disorder, they also have shown significant benefits in reducing symptoms of postpartum depression—all without the side effects associated with other treatments.
3. Salmon is More Palatable for Pregnant Mouths
Even for those of us who aren’t pregnant, the smell of fish can be a little… off-putting. This makes it difficult for the many women who report craving fish and seafood during pregnancy! Common among pregnant women, this craving has been attributed to bodies likely lacking omega-3 fatty acids—and once again salmon can come to the rescue.
Not only is salmon a good choice of the essential fatty acid, but it also has less of a fishy taste and smell than other types of seafood. In addition, the fishy taste of salmon can be easily masked with lemon juice or other spices, making it an ideal option for picky eaters.
4. Salmon Has a Lower Mercury Content When Compared to Other Fish
If you’re expecting and craving a salmon poke bowl, there may be one question getting in the way of satisfying your cravings: is salmon high in mercury?
Fortunately, you can crave salmon and eat it, too! Although salmon is high in mercury compared to other types of protein, the levels are still relatively low. In fact, salmon is in the Food and Drug Administration’s “Best Choices” category when it comes to mercury content. This means that women can safely enjoy salmon two to three times a week without having to worry about hurting their baby's development.
Salmon Safety Precautions to Consider While Pregnant
Salmon is a delicious and nutritious addition to any meal, but it's important to handle and prepare it safely to avoid food poisoning. When shopping for salmon, look for fresh fish that has been properly refrigerated. (Read: How to Tell if Salmon is Bad). Avoid fish that smells bad or looks slimy. If you're not going to cook the salmon immediately, it's best to store it in the freezer.
When you're ready to cook the salmon, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly and use clean cooking utensils. Salmon should be cooked until it reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have leftovers, be sure to refrigerate them within two hours of cooking. Enjoy your salmon safely!
If You’re “Eating For Two,” Salmon is a Great Food to Include
As a recap, salmon is safe to eat during pregnancy. But can pregnant women eat smoked salmon? Can raw salmon be consumed while pregnant? This is where you may want to exercise a little extra caution and only eat raw or smoked salmon sparingly, or with the approval of your healthcare provider.
Overall, however, there can be no question that eating salmon while pregnant provides a wide range of benefits for moms and babies alike. So, if you're expecting, stock up on this incredible superfood today! When you do so, be sure to treat yourself and your “bun in the oven” to the best salmon available. Better yet, save yourself a trip to the grocery store and get wild Alaskan salmon delivered directly to your doorstep.
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